Drinks Ireland has said that comments reportedly made by Minister For Health, Simon Harris about alcohol companies targeting children with alcohol advertisements are “sensationalist and untrue.”
The group has 'strongly' rebutted comments made by Minister Harris in the media today, ahead of the advertising restrictions in the Public Health (Alcohol) Act that will be introduced on 12 November 2019.
“Minister Harris has incorrectly stated that “large companies have lured our children into alcohol addiction through advertisement,”' Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland said.
“This comment is not merely sensationalist - but it is also simply untrue."
Voluntary Advertising Rules
The representative body for drinks companies in Ireland said in a statement that it believed that it’s vital to recognise that in Ireland, the drinks industry has adhered to some of the strictest voluntary advertising rules in the world for both content and volume of alcohol advertising.
"These codes have existed since 2003 and are endorsed and monitored by the Minister’s own department," Callan highlighted.
“Taken together, they meant that, among other things, no alcohol advertising can appeal to young people. They also meant that no outdoor advertisement for alcohol could be placed within 100 metres of a school or youth group. Additionally, no alcohol advertising or branding could appear on children’s clothing.
When it comes to content and placement of adverts, the group outlined, the drinks industry has tended to score better than other sectors in terms of compliance, highlighting the sectors commitment to the rules.
“If we examine the figures around alcohol consumption and youth drinking, they are indicative of the fact that these codes certainly work," she said.
Callan noted that research showed that since 2001, the average per adult alcohol consumption has fallen by 23.2% in Ireland. Additionally, alcohol consumption among teenagers went from 12.7% in 2002 to 4.1% in 2014. This figure (4.1%) is well below the European average of 12.9%.
“As an industry, we support the objectives of the Alcohol Act, to tackle harmful and underage drinking," she said.
It’s important that measures implemented are evidence-based and proportionate, and that any conversations about said legislation by the Minister are factual and are not misleading."
She concluded, "It’s also important to acknowledge work done to date by the industry and other stakeholders, including the Department of Health.”
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